Initiated in 2018, Rainbow Plaques is an ongoing national scheme highlighting the importance of intersectional LGBTQIA+ visibility in our streets and public spaces. The programme was established by York Civic Trust and the York LGBT Forum to honour lesbian diarist Anne Lister (1791–1840). The programme builds upon existing work established by Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum and Studio Voltaire in creating permanent plaques for Oscar Wilde at Clapham Junction Station in 2019, the 1980s film classic, My Beautiful Laundrette, on Wilcox Road in 2021, and the 1990s coming-out and coming-of-age classic Beautiful Thing, at The Greenwich Tavern in 2023.
Rainbow Plaques is a national scheme organised by the London LGBT+ Forums Network and Studio Voltaire that identifies hidden and lost LGBTQIA+ heritage, whilst highlighting the importance of queer visibility in our streets and public spaces. The new Rainbow Plaque in Ladbroke Grove is the second of five to be installed across the capital in celebration of significant people, places and moments in LGBTQIA+ history.
Unveiled on 17 November 2023, the Rainbow Plaque in Ladbroke Grove is the second of five new plaques to be installed across London. Rainbow Plaques is a national scheme organised by the London LGBT+ Forums’ Network and Studio Voltaire that identifies hidden and lost LGBTQIA+ heritage, whilst highlighting the importance of queer visibility in our streets and public spaces.
London Lighthouse was a ground-breaking residential and support centre for people living with HIV and AIDS which was opened on 23 November 1988. It aimed to develop and deliver high-quality services empowering people to live and die well; and to promote the changing of attitudes, as well as good public policy and services.
Against the backdrop of chronic discrimination and abuse at the time, London Lighthouse developed an integrated model of care, providing support from diagnosis to death, with users at the heart of designing and delivering its services. These included information, counselling and training, welfare rights advocacy, complementary therapies, a home support service, respite and terminal care.
Facilities included a café and a beautiful memorial garden where the ashes of many people who died at London Lighthouse are scattered and can still be visited today. The Ian McKellen Hall hosted conferences and concerts, public meetings and parties, fundraisers and funerals, and weekly open days with visitors from around the world.
Robert Sproson, the architect, consulted with potential users to determine the building’s design, aiming to express the project’s vision and was formally opened by Princess Margaret in November 1988.
With the arrival of new anti-viral treatments in the mid-1990s and a decline in public funding, London Lighthouse closed the residential unit, focusing on life-long support for people living with HIV. In 2000 London Lighthouse and HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust joined forces, continuing to provide services from this site until 2013, when the building was sold to become the Museum of Brands.
Five new plaques will be placed at sites in Greenwich, Peckham, Westminster, Ladbroke Grove and Haringey.
More than 100 people participated in consultation workshops alongside an advisory panel to decide on the five new plaques. The advisory panel was Dr Justin Bengry (MA Queer History course convenor at Goldsmiths, University of London), Fisch (Performer and Activist), Tessa Havers-Strong (Director of Forum +), Juliet Jacques (Writer and Filmmaker), Nathan Lewis (Programme and Partnerships Manager of Black Thrive & Chair of Southwark LGBT Network), DJ Ritu (DJ, Broadcaster, Producer) and Marc Thompson (Curator and Activist).
This plaque is supported by Untold Stories, part of the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, with additional support from Wandsworth Oasis.
The Museum of Brands
111-117 Lancaster Road
London W11 1QT
The London LGBT+ Forums Network is a collection of individual LGBTQIA+ forums, Prides and borough-based community groups from across Greater London. They exist to tackle issues of inequality within the public services and to be a voice for their members and LGBTQ+ residents as well as deliver projects that celebrate our shared culture and heritage.
Since its foundation in 1989, Wandsworth Oasis has provided support to - and challenged stigma towards - those living with HIV. Using revenue generated by their nine charity shops located in south London, as well as fundraiser events, they have given over £1 million in grants to HIV-related projects and organisations during the last ten years alone.
The Museum of Brands was established in 1984 by consumer historian Robert Opie. It offers an emotional journey through British lifestyle and culture displayed by its permanent exhibition, the Time Tunnel, temporary displays, activities and talks. The Museum is an independent educational charity funded by admissions, retail, learning, venue hire, charitable grants, sponsorship and donations. Registered Charity No. 1093538
Unveiling images courtesy of London LGBT+ Forum's Network and Studio Voltaire. Photography by Joel Ryder.
Thumbnail image: A lighthouse with two beams of light left and right, advertisement for services provided by the London Lighthouse centre for those with AIDS and HIV. Colour lithograph by Sophie Herxheimer, 1991. Courtesy of the Wellcome Foundation.